Major League Soccer in Tampa Bay, Taggart to Oregon, CFP Games Set

An update on the Tampa Bay sports scene.


Major League Soccer Coming to Tampa Bay

On Tuesday, December 6 the Tampa Bay Rowdies unveiled a campaign to generate local support to show Major League Soccer that the Rowdies are ready to be the next expansion team. This plan includes a privately funded renovation and expansion for Al Lang Stadium in St. Pete.

The Rowdies were the first pro sport franchise in Tampa Bay

. . . and over the course of 41 years have brought thrills, fun and TWO North American Soccer League titles to the area. “This move will bring national and international exposure to St. Petersburg, while also boosting tourism in the area. Bringing Major League Soccer to St. Petersburg will be a great economic driver for the entire region, and will serve as another platform to unify fans on both sides of the bay,” said Rowdies Chairman and CEO Bill Edwards.

The expansion of Al Lang will provide the public with an expanded multi-use venue for sporting events, festivals and concerts

. . . while allowing for the long term success of the Rowdies. All updates will operate in harmony with the Mahaffey Theater, the Dali, Saturday Morning Market and Firestone Grand Prix of St. Pete while allowing for the long term success of the Rowdies.

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The expansion will also create a waterfront view corridor from the stadium seats east into the bay. Most importantly, the expansion will be built on the existing site and not protrude into the surrounding streets or water.

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“Major League Soccer has met with Bill Edwards and is aware of the Rowdies’ campaign to bring an MLS expansion team to the Tampa/St. Petersburg market.”

. . . said MLS Executive Vice President Dan Courtemanche. “There is a rich tradition of professional soccer in the area dating back more than 40 years, and we are impressed with their vision and plans for a world-class soccer stadium on the downtown waterfront in St. Petersburg. We look forward to learning more about their plans in the coming months.”

With the USF Bulls football team winning 10 games this season, the Lightning continuing to dominate the NHL, and the Buccaneers surging toward the playoffs, our area is primed and ready for another major sports franchise. The league has made it clear that it is looking to expand into cities that have demonstrated their support for soccer via season ticket memberships, single game ticket sales and sponsorships. Show your support by voting in the Rowdies poll.  You can purchase your season tickets on their website or by calling 727.222.2000.

You can whet your appetite for Rowdies soccer during the Florida Cup, which begins January 8 at Al Lang Stadium.

 

Willie Taggert Headed to Oregon

ESPN reports that USF’s head coach Willie Taggart will be named Oregon’s next football coach. Taggart as been with the Bulls for four seasons. This year he helped the Bulls win 10 games with just 2 losses — the best record in team history.

Prior to serving as coach of the USF Bulls, Taggart was an assistant at Stanford (2007-09), and head coach of Western Kentucky (2010-12). Potential candidates to fill Taggart’s position are Alabama Offensive Coordination Lane Kiffin, former Texas coach Charlie Strong, FSU co-offensive coordinator Lawrence Dawsey and OSU defensive coordinator Greg Schiano, reports ESPN.

One thing is for certain, all the united Bulls in the area will miss Taggart. While we’re sad to see him go, we’re grateful for all  he has done for USF’s football program and the potential he’s revealed in the roster for the years to come.

 

College Football Playoff Set

The countdown to the National Championship game begins. The top four teams that will compete for the biggest prize in NCAA football at Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium have been announced.

On Saturday, December 31, at 3pm (4) Washington will face (1) Alabama in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl. Following that game at 7pm (3) Ohio State will face (2) Clemson in the Playstation Fiesta Bowl.

The winner of each bowl game will face off in the National Championship game on Monday, January 9. Before the big game, the CFP will host a series of events to energize the Tampa community. Usher, Cold War Kids and others will perform FREE shows at Curtis Hixon Park, the Tampa Convention Center will host a sports theme park, the aquarium will offer up a taste of the championship and much more. Visit their website for a full calendar of events.